Grace is costly. It may accrue to us freely, but it cost Jesus dearly. Love is costly, as is peace-making reconciliation. It is not enough to understand these things as abstractions. We must grow in grace-ness (graciousness) toward others—even those with whom we may disagree or those who may have hurt us. Jesus was wounded in the house of his friends and betrayed by one of his most intimate friends. The disciple is not above the Master. We have been given a ministry of reconciliation to, and for, the world and it is a tall order. Would it not make sense that it actually work among those who call upon Jesus as Lord, before we try to export our convictions to others?
Really? Another seminar on Revelation? God spare us. Normally, that’s how I would feel about this topic. The fixation on the Revelation in Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism is a manic money-making machine. However, this live-stream will be unlike anything I experienced growing up in Evangelicalism: we will not be trying to predict the future! Rather, we will endeavor to look at the Revelation through the lens of first century, Second Temple era metaphors and cosmology. What would a Mediterranean-basin, Jew/Gentile audience understand from the imagery in a letter full of Jewish apocalyptic themes?
Propitiation—few Pauline words have generated more fountains of theological ink than this (hilasterion). Debates about what Paul intended go back as far as Origen. Post-Reformation, it has pretty much been five hundred years of ambiguity and theological hair-splitting.
In the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) Movement, there is a strong emphasis on identifying, submitting to, and naming individuals your spiritual father (mother). How does this stand up in the light of Matthew 23:9?
I have learned that when on spiritual and theological “adventures and excursions” it is often relationally best to say little, or nothing. The deeper the plow of the cross goes into our lives, the less one usually has to say about it. Eternal jaw-jacking and yammering about this and that spiritual thing is neither spiritually wise nor relationally mature. It is lacking in relational wisdom. It is a form of self-centeredness: what I think and what I have to say is so important that . . . blah, blah, blah. No one is listening.
Our dominant Christian culture rewards beauty, fame, and success rather than wisdom, fruitfulness, and faithfulness. The following is a true story from someone who learned the hard way and too late that “successful Christian ministry,” based on money, size, acclaim, and fame is a dead-end illusion. Jesus said we should beware when everyone speaks well of us because the false prophets were popular in Israel. I pray young women and men reading this will heed and spare themselves unnecessary sorrow and heartache.
My friend, Steve Hill (Harvest Now in Ontario, Canada), does what I consider to be genuine and biblically sound “apostolic discipleship” around the world. He does it based on the values of Jesus in the Gospels (See his Luke 10 Manual), not Western values of success. He empowers local people in countries around the world to full kingdom functionality in their communities, without dependency on Western “experts” or money.
In this brief article he asks challenging questions regarding the emphasis (and cost) of maintaining millions, if not billions, of dollars in religious buildings, real estate, and property when the needs of others around the world are so demanding. It is my understanding that between 80-95% of all church budgets in the West are devoted to buildings and salaries. Is there not a better way to do “ministry,” a way with a global perspective and burden? I believe there is. I believe it is the Jesus-Way, and Steve and his coworkers are doing it. This article is reprinted by permission.
I have been a Charismatic believer for forty-two years. I was a weekly “worship leader” in Charismatic, “prophetic and apostolic” environments for thirty-five of those years. I get the picture as someone who has been on the inside for a very long time. I thoroughly understand the history, theology, values, beliefs, and practices behind Charismatic praise and worship expression. I also have had serious concerns and uneasiness about the theology and practice for a very long time.
I have been a follower of Christ for forty-two years. For thirty-four of those years I have been self-employed. Fewer things are more offensive to unbelievers, and more undermining to the Lord’s testimony in the earth, than vocally “Christian” business people whose true God is the love of money and whose business ethics resemble more of Bernie Madoff and Martin Shkreli than Jesus Christ. Being a Christian in business is more than having a fish sticker on the bumper of your business vehicle. It is having a Jesus stamp on your heart.